Sunday, June 21, 2009


This week's guest is romance author Skhye Moncrief. When I asked Skhye to be my guest I made the mistake of asking her to include her favorite reference book . It turned out to be like asking which chocolate in the box is her favorite. Oh well, she obviously likes reference books
as much as I do and has provided links to her reviews. Welcome Skhye.

Hi, Amber.
Okay, let's talk about writing. There's the actual act of writing, learning the craft of writing, blogging, networking with industry folks, schmoozing with readers, maintaining your website, marketing with an endless cycle of promoting your work, and don't forget your real life that is anything but self-cleaning and self-sufficient. Well, now you know why I write fiction--a pretty little world that I can control because that mountain of dirty dishes and laundry never disappears no matter how much I mine for control of chaos!

So, somewhere along the way I have to do research. Yes, even the gal who studied the eclectic hard science and soft science, geology and anthropology, has to reconstruct extinct cultures or build new planets teaming with political, economic, and ideological strife through research.

Remember, I said writing was all about control. ;) Ms. Polo asked me to give you a wee list of references that every paranormal reader might want to keep on hand. Some references may not apply to you based on the type of paranormal fiction you write. So, be patient with me. ;) I'm kind of OCD...


Here are a few medieval references that helped build my understanding of the way people thought in what became Europe. Of course, I took Medieval Literature and Renaissance & Reformation English Lit solely for research purposes. I wouldn't recommend that route with anyone who isn't ready for the challenge! But I want to stress that fantasies introducing new worlds tend to have worlds built upon medieval lifeways.

And you can't go wrong with a sweet bible of legend or myth, eh? Here are a few additional medieval reference books...

If you're working on a time travel set in a Christian world, invest in at least one used copy of anything dealing with Christian mythology. Yes, I said mythology.

MEDICINE AND SOCIETY IN LATER MEDIEVAL ENGLAND (a great place to get a feel for the view of early medicine)

You'll also need something defining and labelling castle anatomy. Medievals have castles and readers connect with the terminology like THE ANATOMY OF A CASTLE.

Don't forget to learn the terminology for warfare. One excellent source is THE DICTIONARY OF ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL WARFARE.

THE HISTORY OF HELL comes in just as handy when dealing with a Christian culture. It's a wonderful challenge to pit a paranormal character against a Christian in historicals. ;)

Lastly, You can really see the way Christianity evolved and controlled people by reading ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERESIES AND HERETICS's entries, . Just jump from one entry to where they refer you to a similar topic.

How does a writer characterize with astrology, something amazingly foreign to most of us in our scientific world? Well, astrology is built on thousands of years of symbolism passed down to the present. We've just distanced ourselves from it through ideological guidance and what most people don't refer to as ideology, science. The best thing you can do is to truly attempt to understand the pros and cons of each sign if you choose to work astrology into your wip. Try a few of these:

HOW TO SPOT A BASTARD BY HIS STAR SIGN (EXTREMELY entertaining, and look for the book about the female aspect) YOUR ASTROLOGY GUIDE TO COLORS (symbolism in color)
HANDBOOK OF CHINESE HOROSCOPES (this book combines eastern/western signs to really peg a person's personality) YOUR STARCHILD (signs during childhood because they change)

You will also need a book on western Sun signs. And don't discount how Western symbolism learned and dealt with through Tarot and Numerology in your quest to gain an understanding of what you're dealing with in a wip dabbling with astrology. Here are a few keepers to expand your understanding...

TAROT IN TEN MINUTES (meanings of the Major Arcana) THE MASTER NUMBERS (Oh my! This one pegged me to a T.) NUMEROLOGY. My favorite Tarot deck that helps me figure out just what is going on with Tarot is Lucy Cavendish's THE ORACLE TAROT. Ms. Cavendish wisely put one or two key words on each card to express the card's significance. You cannot go wrong trying to descry card meanings with this deck. And I love the fresh artwork.

Lots of books containing magic or spells show how astrology, Tarot, and numerology deal with the same information. The presentation just varies from basic numbers to vignettes of extravagent symbols, i.e. a picture on a Tarot card--worth a 1000 words... MAGIC FOR LOVERS.

The stuff paranormals are made of...
THE WITCH'S GUIDE TO FAERY FOLK (a resource to define the fairy you're working with)
DRAGONS: A NATURAL HISTORY (a place to start in determining the dragon you need)
MONSTERS: AN INVESTIGATOR'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL BEINGS (how to find, avoid, and deal with monsters of all types)
A FIELD GUIDE TO DEMONS, FAIRIES, FALLEN ANGELS, & OTHER SUBERSIVE SPIRITS (a guide written by two anthropologists where supernatural entities are differentiated between with habitats including the psyche!)
SLAYERS AND THEIR VAMPIRES (understanding how a person can venture into the forbidden world and not be labelled equally forbidden)
VAMPIRES, BURIAL, & DEATH (the bible to vampire studies)
ANGELS A TO Z (the dirt at your fingertips)
LIFE AFTER DEATH (the evolution of Western ideas about the afterlife)
TIME TRAVEL (what's been done and where time travel is going, plausibly)
SEX AND THE PARANORMAL (just in case you want your story to be a bit deeper)

To see what other reference books I've blogged about dealing with science, historical topics, the paranormal, cultural analysis, and writing, visit my blog.

Never leave a stone unturned. ;) Or a reader might hurl it at you!

Thanks to Amber for inviting me over to ramble. Most folks get all weird when I start spouting off reference titles. Yes, I realize I people have no idea what to do with the things I discuss. *chuckle* So, sharing was tons of fun.

I'm giving away a copy of THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON to one person who tells me what their favorite myth or historical reference book . Please leave a comment with the title, author's name, and why you like the reference book. Amber will draw the winner Sunday June 27th and post the name here. ~Skhye

The Spell of the Killing Moon offers the best of spine-tingling suspense. The setting is perfect... Moncrief’s ability to wield magic and emotion are without compare. Her words twist together emotions and visuals until you experience this tale as if the trap were set for you. Some lines blend a kind of poetic magic: “Moonlight wove a special kind of magic, a spell so vacillating that a person never knew if reality were anything other than a dream.” Darkness and premonitions and deadly intent fill these pages... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller. 5 books" ~Snapdragon, LASR

Skhye Moncrief pushes the envelope by twisting legends to create new worlds where readers can fall in love beyond this reality. Her stories are available at The Wild Rose Press in e-format and print.

Contest Closed. Skhye will pick a winner!


  1. I love reading about the books you find. I have ordered several books based on your list. This will be my next one:

  2. Debby, that's one of my favorites! I always grab it first when I'm trying to decide with faery to use... ;) Skhye

  3. Man and I thought I had already bought most of my needs. Now I have more to add to the list.

    It's not easy pulling a medieval knight forward in time and then figuring out what sorts of paranormal attributes I want to give the bad guys (demons and gargoyles). Too many reference books needed. Glad I know you. :)

  4. LOL, Beth. That's the truth. Should I whisper "Half Price Books?" I take it they're all over the country. ;)

  5. I just discovered The Tough Guide to Fantasyland ;the essential guide to fantasy travel by Diana Wynee Jones. Reference and humor. LOL

  6. I bet, Amber. I need to check that out!

  7. Skhye, you're just plain dangerous. To my pocket and to my house. One of these days, you'll be called to come and identify me under the piles of books that will have buried me alive. that is, IF they ever manage to dig me out.

    Me wants! me wants! Great list!

    Now I have to revive one more project: an encyclopedia of Russian magical beings...

  8. Masha, I'll proofread it for you!!!! PLEASE!!! You know, I thought of a dozen more books to add to this list after I sent it to Amber. LOFRICKIN'LLLL

  9. Hi Skhye,

    I LOOOOOVE reference books myself, so I appreciate the list. And these are just the types I can get engrossed in for days. It's hard to pick one reference book, since I have one for different topics. And at different times. Usually whatever I'm reading or referring to at the time becomes my favorite. However, Tarot for Writers by Corinne Kenner is one I think you'd enjoy. I know I have. Also The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference is fantastic.

    I've not known about most of your suggestions. I'll have to check them out.

  10. Awesome list, Skhye -- I've just reserved A History of Hell at my library...thank you for sharing!!!

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  12. Julie, I have both of those books! Thanks. Thanks for stopping by.

  13. DarkAngel, that's a fabulous book! If anything, it's interesting to see how the idea of Hell changed through time. The evolution of the concept says a lot for mythology. ;)

  14. For writers who love shifters -
    Check out The Magic of Shapeshifting by Rosalyn Greene. It treats shifting from the standpoint of shamanism with some how to do it tips to my favorite chapter on "The Process of Physical Shifting" telling how the shift changes a body.

  15. Terrific list, Skhye. I am just starting to dabble in the paranormal genre with a new manuscript. I have lots of references for my historicals, but you have given me a great list for my newest venture. Thanks!

  16. Oh, Amber, that sounds cool. I definitely need that book!!!

    And Diane, good luck. Paranormals are fun because you can invent your own rules. ;)

  17. Wow, Skhye. You must have an awesome library. Where do you keep all these book? I've made a short list to buy and bookmarked this page for future reference.

    One of my favorite research books EVERYDAY LIFE in the WILD WEST by Moulton.


  18. I have that book, Linda. :) I'm kinda OCD. Okay, 110%. You know, I'm a big big fan of mountain men... I need a Writer's Guid to Mountain Men...

    We just built a floor-to-ceiling shelf in our hall that's 12' long and 9.5' high. The problem is I filled it just like that. So, now I'm trying to decide how to break it to my husband where to build another one. LOL

  19. Skhye:
    Thank you a million times for sharing your research material! I just ordered two of them from Amazon because I can always use more reference material. Up to this point I had been using the Gnostic gospels and more theology based work, this helps sooo much!!

  20. You're very welcome, Autumn. Thanks for stopping by.

  21. Skhe,

    You don't suppose you could post that supplemental list, do you? If you have some extra time.

  22. Wow Skhye, what a fascinating post - and another terrific list of books. *Sigh* I've already bought several fo your recommendations from Amazon, the next one will have to be 'Space Travel'. (How can I have missed that one?) I already have BB's 'Writing Sience Fiction', of course.

    As for 'Spell Of The Killing Moon' I just finished reading it, and it's as amazing as I knew it would be. The gothic intrigue, wolfie shapeshifter and mediaeval atmosphere combine to make a story that springs vividly to life. Loved it!

  23. Oh, and thanks Linda. I'll have to get that one. It sounds like a good reference for me.

  24. LOL, Julie. Most of the books are at my blog. Just go to this link and scroll down through the 160 entries. I'm certain you'll find something useful. ;)

    Thanks, Lyn. That Space Travel is one of the books in the Writer's Digest series on Time Travel, Aliens, and Space Travel. ;) I haven't used it as much given my mode of travel is through stone circles via fairy magic. But in the future on that planet, they have space vehicles. :) Thanks for the kind words on THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON. I did tons of research for that novella. ~Skhye

  25. Julie, here's one I don't know if I've blogged about but ranks definitely essential.

    by Turner and Coulter
    Oh boy! Talk about info at your fingertips. This book beats most of the others I have on "Gods of this culture or that culture".

  26. The University of Texas puts out a slim little Cliffnotes-type series on myths. Each book is about a different culture. For example, CELTIC MYTHS by Miranda Green is a quick read (a few hours) and you're ready to decide where to go with something Celtic. As for Ms. Green, she's my end-all-be-all Celtic expert. I highly recommend anything written by her. She's cut-and-dry scientific though. If you're dealing with a Druid, you may want to go with John and Caitlin Matthews. ;)

  27. Too funny, Skhye!! I love all our references; I could spend a week or so just checking them all out. Or more. Dictionary of Ancient Deities looks like a must have! Thanks. I've always been fascinated by other cultures beliefs. A Dictionary of Creation Myths by David and Margaret Leeming is a good source if you want to narrow your focus.

    Amber, I'll have to take a look at The Magic of Shapeshifting. I've been reading one called Animal Totems by Ted Andrews that talks about shapeshifting, but the focus is on the totems.

    Thanks for having Skhye over. This conversation has been right up my alley.

  28. Hard to pick a favorite reference book. My books are so varied so far that I use different ones for each. Favorite myth of course would have to be Bigfoot.

    P. L. Parker

  29. You and me both, Patsy!!! I'm a Sasquatch-aholic. :)

  30. That's a fantastic list! I love discovering new books and this is one of my favorite topics. Thanks for adding more titles to my shopping list! Here are two books on my own reference shelf: SPELLBOUND (From Ancient Gods to Modern Merlins, A Time Tour of Myth and Magic) by Dominic Alexander. That one deals with witches and their path through history. Another I just discovered is THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MAGICAL CREATURES by Caitlin Matthews. This one is really fun, full of all sorts of creatures I've never heard of before.

  31. Hi, Tricia! I love Caitlin Matthews. SPELLBOUND is new to me though. I'll have to check that out! Thanks. ~Skhye

  32. I have this book a friend wrote that has every vampire legend in history and all over the world. It is called Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires by Theresa Bane. Worth the buy.

  33. Very cool, Sapphire. I've seen that one!

  34. Skhye - thank you for sharing. My paranormal reference library isn't very large as yet, but one book I refer to for the basics and as a start off point is The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference.

    I think my credit card could take a bit of a beating after reading your post. :)

  35. Thanks, Shelley. I have The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference. Since I couldn't get to it when I compiled this list (long story about all my books being in the garage but they are now on my new 12' long bookcase), I couldn't remember it's title! LOL. Thanks for posting it here for everyone. It's a wonderful book with lists of things. ;)

  36. Thanks for the tips, Skhye. I can't wait to read some of the suggestions.

  37. Congrats, Tricia Schneider! You won a pdf of THE SPELL OF THE KILLING MOON. Please email me at to claim your prize. ;)

    And thanks to everyone for stopping by and sharing your info with us! Thanks to Amber for hosting this informative topic too!